This site is for women who have been diagnosed with or are worried they have breast cancer, their families, partners and friends. Also for women with other breast problems.
It provides practical information about breast cancer and guidance on "what to do when" written by women who have survived breast cancer. We give you fast and easy access to other web sites, book and publication references and contacts for the breast cancer topics you are interested in.
It is different because we ask women what they need to know and go look for it so we can help you. bhia.org is another site that has various information on breast cancer.
Thousands of women survive breast cancer. Read their stories or tell us about yours. Read a story | send us your story.
Breast changes / Signs of breast cancer
If you have a breast change, you may be concerned that you have breast cancer. In most cases there is nothing to worry about. However you should follow up all breast changes as soon as possible. If it is cancer, finding it early will mean a much better chance of effective treatment.
Possible signs of breast cancer include the following:
- A discharge from the nipple, which is from one nipple, is bloodstained or occurs without squeezing (or if you are over 60 and have a new discharge)
- A pulling in of the nipple (know as nipple inversion or retraction)
- Persistent unusual pain which is not related to your menstrual cycle, remains after your period and is in one breast only
A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. The fluid is produced and absorbed by the breast as part of the usual cycle of hormonal breast changes. Some women are more susceptible to breast cysts than others. They are more common in women aged 35-50 and in women who are taking hormone replacement therapy. (Note there is a view that cysts can be reduced by lower consumption of coffee and taking Vitamin B12). Cysts can be painful around menstruation
Simple cysts are not cancer and do not change into cancer. In rare cases, a cyst may have cancer growing in or close to it. This can be seen on an ultrasound, or found after the cyst is aspirated or drained.
You may have a cyst or a number of cysts without knowing it. Cysts do not usually need to be treated. Some women first detect their cyst as a painful lump and they may decide to have it drained if it is painful or troublesome. The breast surgeon will insert a fine needle into the cyst to draw out the fluid. This is usually simple and fairly painless. The fluid may be taken for testing.
Familial Breast Cancer
What is familial breast cancer?
This is where your family history shows one or more blood relatives who have, or have had, breast or ovarian cancer. These relatives could be on either side of your family. You should not count in-laws, adoptive parents or your step parents, sisters or brothers.
There are some features which potentially increase the risk. These are as follows:
- A relative who has or has had cancer in both breasts
- A relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40
- A relative who has had both breast and ovarian cancer
- A male relative who has or has had breast cancer.